How long have you been in St. Petersburg and how do you like it in Russia?

I have been here over eight months already, nearly a year soon. It feels great to be here in Russia and particularly in St. Petersburg. I am glad and proud to be here and to be a member of the ITMO community.

What are you studying? 

I have just started my Bachelor’s degree in software and administration of information systems.

Why did you choose this field? 

Since childhood, I have found it rather appealing and also looking at where we are going, I thought that computer science would take over the world. So, this sparked my interest in the field.

How many programming languages do you know so far? 

I know a little Python, C#, and some very basic C++. 

How did you find out about ITMO?

My acquaintance from Zambia studied here and told me a lot about it. While I was still at school, I researched the best universities in computer science and saw that ITMO was one of the top institutions in this subject globally. This kindled my interest to apply. 

When did you decide to study in Russia?

I talked to some students from Russian universities, and they all told me how beautiful Russia is. This made me very interested in pursuing my education here.

Mishek is proud to be studying in Russia. Photo courtesy of the subject

Mishek is proud to be studying in Russia. Photo courtesy of the subject

And did you indeed find the beauty they mentioned here, too?

Not to exaggerate, but I have really fallen in love with Russian culture and history. I really like the architecture and art in the city. There are many historical places to visit and I’ve seen a number of stunning rivers and sights in St. Petersburg. So what I heard was true, it really is a beautiful city. 

How did you learn about Russian history? 

Since I was interested in coming here, I took the time to read a bit about the history of the country. I wouldn’t say it was very deep at the time, but when I came here to complete my Foundation Program at ITMO, our teachers introduced us to more details about Russian culture and history. Now, I would say that I have a solid basic understanding of both.

Did the Foundation Program help you? Do you think it’s important for international students to do such a course before coming to Russia? 

Yes. It is very important, I would emphasize it. Through this course, you get to improve your Russian and, as I said, you have the chance to learn about Russian culture. Moreover, the course gives you the chance to learn about the educational system at university before you start your first year here, which is very important. 

What things do you find different in Russia compared to your home country, Zambia? 

I would say that St. Petersburg is much more beautiful compared to my country. I have seen many dazzling places here. For instance, I particularly enjoyed visiting the Hermitage. I really liked it there. I think it never fails to catch people’s interest. 

And in terms of studies and education? 

I can say that I saw some differences in the educational system, but it is most probably because in my country I was still a school student – I hadn’t studied at university before I came to Russia. From my observations, however, I would say that the education system here is better than in my home country.

Mishek with other international students. Photo courtesy of the subject

Mishek with other international students. Photo courtesy of the subject

What would you like to do in the future? 

My main aim is to be in a position where I can apply the knowledge that I acquire here to develop things that can help people and that contribute to my country’s development, especially in computer science. 

Winter is slowly but steadily approaching us here; are you ready to brace the cold? Any strategies for keeping yourself warm?

The winter here is very cold, but there is no option other than to come prepared. The most important thing is to buy warm clothes because it gets very cold. And to make sure to go outside as little as possible, only when it is necessary. 

If you could say one thing to students in Zambia who are dreaming of coming to Russia to study, what would you tell them?

Start doing your research about the Russian language and learning it before you come here, so that when you arrive you can have it a little easier.

Interviewed by Subhrajit Barua

Written by Catherine Zavodova